William F. Deeck

RUFUS KING – Holiday Homicide. Doubleday Crime Club, hardcover, 1940. Dell #22, paperback, mapback edition; no date [1943].

   This is a possibly dubious entry despite the title and the fact that the murder takes place on New Year’s Day.

   On board his yacht Coquina in New York City, Cotton Moon, private detective and nut — the edible kind — collector, is hit on the forehead by a sapucaia nut, a genuine rarity. It had been tossed inadvertently at him from, and brought his attention to, another anchored yacht, the Trade Wind, owned by a millionaire real-estate mogul, who had been shot in his bed, it appears, during the noisy revelry early on New Year’s Day.

   Moon investigates at a fee even Nero Wolfe wouldn’t sneer at and encounters another murder, an attempted murder, an earthquake and a hurricane.

   This book has its moments, but they are brief and sporadic ones. Apparently King himself was aware it wasn’t a completely successful idea since this is his only novel featuring Cotton Moon.

— Reprinted from MYSTERY READERS JOURNAL, Vol. 7, No. 3, Fall 1991, “Holiday Murders.”